Report Blames U.S. Pilots, Controllers for Brazil Midair

 - December 9, 2008, 11:02 AM

According to reports in several Brazilian newspapers, U.S. Legacy 600 pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino and Brazilian controllers will be blamed for the September 2006 midair in which an ExcelAire-owned Embraer Legacy 600 collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 over Brazil’s Amazon jungle, killing all 154 aboard the airliner. A final accident report, leaked to the Brazilian press over the weekend and expected to be officially issued tomorrow at noon by both the NTSB and Brazilian aviation safety agency Cenipa, claims the Legacy’s transponder was “inadvertently turned off by the hand of one of the pilots,” which was the “central point in a chain of errors” leading to the collision between the Legacy and Boeing 737 at FL370. A transponder turned off or set to “standby” mode also places its TCAS into “standby” mode. The controllers will be taken to task for failing to note the drop in transponder returns from the Legacy, miscommunication about the Legacy’s altitude and failure of communication between the crew and ATC. ExcelAire executive vice president David Rimmer said, “The transponder is a distraction from the true cause of the accident: ATC put two airplanes on a collision course for about an hour. It was compounded by multiple catastrophic errors and weaknesses within the ATC system.”